A Bond of Love, a series of online interviews that began as a promotional strategy for the book of the same name, sees Vaishnavi disciples of Srila Prabhupada sharing their memories and realizations about their spiritual master twice a month, and thus connecting multiple generations with ISKCON’s Founder-Acarya.
The series is livestreamed every alternate Saturday around 11am PST on the Vaishnavi Ministry North America Facebook page and Youtube channel simultaneously, although times vary to accommodate interviewees from different timezones.
The interview series is inspired by the 600-page book A Bond of Love: Srila Prabhupada and His Daughters, in which over 300 Vaishnavis share memories of their interactions with Srila Prabhupada, and discuss how he impacted their lives. According to publisher Mayapriya Dasi of Bookwrights Press, the intention of the book is to “document Srila Prabhupada’s exchanges with his female disciples for the benefit of existing and future members of ISKCON, as well as for anyone interested in knowing more about our beloved spiritual master and how he deeply and personally affected the lives of his beloved female disciples (spiritual daughters).”
The accompanying interview series begin in December 2020, soon after A Bond of Love was released, as a way to promote the book and hear from the Vaishnavis who shared in its pages.
Organized by Vaishnavi Minister for North America Govinda-Priya Dasi as well as Ministry members Carly, Victoria, Tiffany, and Shyama Sakhi, the series also aims to give devotees a chance to hear from Srila Prabhupada’s disciples while they are still present with us.
So far interviewees have included GBC Malati Dasi, who was sent by Srila Prabhupada to bring Krishna consciousness to the UK; author Visakha Dasi, who served as Prabhupada’s official photographer and is now the temple president at Bhaktivedanta Manor in the UK; Shrutirupa Dasi from Alachua, who served as Srila Prabhupada’s cook; and author and preacher Narayani Dasi, who served Srila Prabhupada in his time by doing deity worship and traveling book distribution.
The interview series has also featured Australian Vaishnavi Minister and SABHA committee member Krishnarupa Dasi; Nirakula Dasi, who worked with the BBT, co-authored the first Higher Taste cookbook and now guides devotees at ISKCON Silicon Valley along with her husband Vaisesika Das; Gurucharana Padma Dasi, who served as head of the Bhaktivedanta Manor Primary school and is now on the temple council; and many others.
The most recent A Bond of Love interview, which took place on Saturday July 17th, featured sisters Rangavati Dasi and Nirmala Dasi. Rangavati, who introduced her sister to Krishna consciousness, organized the first all women’s traveling book party during Prabhupada’s time, while Nirmala served as a book distributor. Both now live in Alachua, Florida.
North American Vaishnavi Minister Govinda Priya Dasi, who conducts many of the Bond of Love interviews, describes the talks as “heart to heart conversations.” Among a variety of topics, Vaishnavis discuss how they came to Krishna consciousness; their favorite memory of Srila Prabhupada; what they felt when they were in Prabhupada’s presence; what about Prabhupada convinced them to dedicate their life to him; their favorite quality of Srila Prabhupada’s; how their relationship with Prabhupada deepened over the years since his departure from this world; and how next generation devotees can develop a personal relationship with Srila Prabhupada.
Upcoming interviewees include Jagrini Dasi, Jayasri Dasi, and Kanka Dasi. “We have so many Vaishnavis to interview, that twice a month is not enough,” says Govinda Priya. “I hope that this interview series will go on for years.”
According to Govinda Priya, the interviews are helping younger generations connect with senior Vaishnavis, and senior devotees connect with and learn more about their godsisters.
“Some of the reviews we get are, ‘I’ve known this devotee for a long time, but I didn’t know this aspect of her life,’ or ‘I didn’t know she was part of this pastime of Srila Prabhupada’s,’ or ‘It was so nice to hear from her after so long, I didn’t know where she was,’” says Govinda Priya. “The interviews are just opening newer and newer layers, not only of the Vaishnavis’ personalities, but also the relationship they had with Srila Prabhupada.”
The interview series is also helping viewers to see Srila Prabhupada not only as the Founder-Acarya of a worldwide movement, but also as a person, and to connect with him at a different level.
“We’ve had second generation devotees write to us saying, ‘Oh my goodness, as we’re hearing, it’s like Srila Prabhupada is here walking the planet,’” Govinda Priya says.
She adds: “After being inspired by these interviews, Anasuya from Harrisburg temple reached out to the Vaishnavi Ministry a few weeks back asking for ten copies of A Bond of Love, because the Vaishnavis there wanted to read it together with their book club.”
Meanwhile Srila Prabhupada disciple Manjuali Dasi from England, who appeared in the series herself, comented that hearing the interviews with her godsisters took her back to the era when Srila Prabhupada was physically present, and made her relive those moments again.
“We just hope that the devotees watching these interviews feel more connected with Srila Prabhupada, and their faith in the movement strengthens, in spite of any challenges that they’re facing now, or will face in the future,” Govinda Priya says.
“And of course, we hope they take this opportunity to connect with these senior Vaishnavis that had personal association with Srila Prabhupada; and to then develop wonderful bonds with their own generations.”
Watch A Bond of Love interviews on Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq2TMISXpdXyVMTjeH0G3wQ
And on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/VaishnaviMinistryNorthAmerica/
Purchase the book A Bond of Love here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/188040429X
Jan 23, 2022
Anandini Tikunov (8th-grade student)
Jan 22, 2022
Sunanda Das, tovp.org